NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced a new initiative to expand access to COVID-19 testing in low-income communities and communities of color by using two dozen churches in predominantly minority communities as new testing locations.
The move comes after a survey showed these neighborhoods have been suffering the most during the state’s coronavirus outbreak.
“If you look at the 21 ZIP codes with the highest number of hospitalizations for COVID, 20 of those 21 have greater than average African American or Latino populations,” said Cuomo during his Saturday COVID-19 briefing. “You can map this and you can see exactly where people are coming from as they’re walking into hospitals.”
Cuomo cited that while New York State’s numbers are better than other states, “any disparity is bad” and this initiative would help expose the root causes of those differences in access to support.
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“This is not the normal line of business for churches to be setting up testing sites for a COVID virus, but I think it is the mission of the churches, they’re there to serve the community,” said Cuomo. “They’re there to work with the community and meet the needs at that time, and this is the need at that time.”
Cuomo announced the state will be partnered with Northwell Health, the state’s largest health system, to set up the program with the first church-based testing centers opening the week of May 12, and a second group opening the week of May 19.
“When you put the church-based sites together with drive-thru sites, together with the walk-in testing sites and our sites at public housing, the coverage will be extensive,” said Cuomo. “We now need New Yorkers to go get the tests.”